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The Precedent for Partnership

Why Partnership?

Partnership is the new formula for success in our culture. Whether you are in business, government, or academia, those who are serious about the future are forming partnering relationships. Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple Inc., put it this way: “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” That formula for success has permeated the business world today and has resulted in soaring profits and cross-company alliances.

The corporate model has been so successful that it has garnered the attention of the 21st century church. Those churches who want to appeal to a contemporary audience have adopted similar strategies in an attempt to be “successful,” “hip,” “relevant,” “trendy,” and “cutting-edge.” Their desire to break the traditional models of church have led them to implement trends from society that will help them obtain cultural relevance.

At Maranatha we reject the kind of thinking that would look to the world as the model for success. Rather, we understand that the Bible is our ultimate authority for the church, and thus we believe that Christ has given us the perfect and complete guide for leadership. He has established the principles for church growth and life-change, and if we are faithful to implement His strategies, then He will “build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Thus, if partnership is necessary for the church, then our mandate for partnership must rest on Biblical principles rather than worldly models of success.

So, let’s take some time to explore the Biblical precedent for partnership!

Partnership originates with God

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1).

Isn’t it striking that the Bible begins with partnership. At the outset of God’s revelation, we are confronted with His creative power; fashioning the universe in complete and perfect unity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all united in the great work of speaking the universe into existence.

That work continued on the sixth day of creation when it was time for God to fashion mankind. “Let Us make man in Our Own image, after Our likeness” (Gen 1:26). The text drives us to conclude that God was united in that creative work as well.

Centuries later, when Immanuel would be born to a virgin, the great work of salvation was finally coming to pass. That work, too, would comprise the combined energy of God to bring to pass the plan of redemption for mankind. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit united in perfect harmony to accomplish the master plan of salvation.

1 Peter 1:2 (NKJV) – “Elect according to foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

Partnership is commended to Moses

Partnership isn’t just a divine activity, it is a quality of healthy leadership. Perhaps the greatest human leader in the Bible was commanded to implement partnership as a means of properly shepherding the people of Israel. Moses, who was single-handedly leading millions of people on a cross-country trip to the Promised Land, was told on two separate occasions to enlist the help of others.

The first occasion took place when Moses’ father-in-law (Jethro) showed up. When he saw the immense burden that Moses was carrying for the people, and the great needs of the massive assembly, Jethro confronted Moses directly.

Exodus 18:17-23 – 17 “The thing that you do is not good. 18 Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself . . . 21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God . . . and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens . . . 23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all the people will go to their place in peace.”

In simple terms, Jethro told Moses – “Stop the madness, Moses! Appoint others to help you in the work! Then everyone will enjoy the benefits of partnership!”

On the second occasion, Moses complains to God about the tremendous burden he is carrying on behalf of the people. Apparently, Moses didn’t do the best job maintaining his father-in-law’s advice, which led to “burn-out.” So, God has to remind Moses of the priority of partnership.

Numbers 11:16–17 (ESV) - 16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.

Partnership is God’s idea! Partnership is good for leaders!

And partnership is essential for God’s people!

Partnership is implemented by Christ and the Church

Jesus’ earthly ministry was punctuated by partnership. At the moment of his baptism, the Father resounded from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And the Spirit descended on the Lord like a dove and commissioned him to ministry. From that moment on, Jesus spoke the words of the Father, carried out the mission of the Father, performed the works of the Father, and submitted to the will of the Father through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus’ life was so aligned to the will of the Father that he says at the end of his public ministry, “Whoever sees me sees him who sent me . . . For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment – what to say and what to speak” (John 12:45, 49). Every word and every action of Christ was a living portrait of God the Father, so that to reject Christ was to reject the Father Himself.

Not only did Jesus ministry model partnership with God, but he also instituted partnership among his disciples. When he sends the disciples out on their first mission trip, he sends them out in teams of “two by two” (Mark 6:7). And when he sends the larger group of seventy out into the cities of Judea, he sends them out “two by two” (Luke 10:1). Their ministry would be bolstered through partnership.

It should be no surprise then that the priority of partnership would characterize the New Testament church. Peter and John are often serving side-by-side in the early parts of Acts (Acts 3:1, 11; 4:13, 19; 8:14). Barnabas and Paul would work side-by-side in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26) and were then sent as a mission team into the world (Acts 13:1-3). After establishing several churches on their first missionary journey, Barnabas and Paul revisited those churches and appointed teams of pastors in every city (Acts 14:23).

Partnership is God’s idea! Partnership is for today!

What does partnership mean at Maranatha?

Team – Partnership means that Pastor Andrew, Pastor David, and Pastor Ben are all part of a unified team with the singular purpose of “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry . . . till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph 4:11-16). Same team - same calling - same ministry – same vision!

Leadership – Partnership means that although there are different roles and responsibilities for each team member (see the picture below), God has called each one of your pastors to lead the body at Maranatha. We believe it is our combined responsibility to ensure that each family is thriving and each ministry is flourishing. It will take the collective energy of the team to identify, support, and serve the people of Maranatha in their various life stages. And because we lead as a team, we believe it is necessary to publicly reinforce the Biblical precedent of partnership by allowing the members of the team to preach, teach, and lead across the many ministries at Maranatha.

Collaboration – Your pastoral team meets together hours each week to align our objectives in ministry so that each part of the church is harmonized to advance a united cause.

Accessibility – Since your pastors are focused on various areas of ministry, we are able to develop deeper relationships with those who are associated with those ministries. As we build relationships with the people of Maranatha, we want to convey approachability and tenderness as you raise your concerns. Be assured that when you express an issue with one member of the team, you speak to the whole.

Strength / Accountability – Each member of the team provides unique strength and perspective that helps to overcome the weaknesses of the other team members. The diversity of passions, the contribution of various experiences, and the harmony of spiritual gifts is a distinct blessing that we see as from the Lord.

Compensation – We believe that every team member is striving to lead in a way that is in harmony with 1 Timothy 5:17 - “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” Thus, we feel that the compensation of the team should reflect our unified commitment to ministry as we seek to carry out the precedent of partnership according to the Biblical mandate.

In summary

As you can see, partnership is not optional – it is required! It not only emulates the character of God, but also fulfills his mandate for spiritual leadership. Partnership is good for leaders as it invites the team to share the burden of ministry, and it’s good for the people as provides greater accessibility, support, and personal relationship. We believe that Maranatha will thrive as we seek to implement God’s strategy for the church, and that it will lead to greater wisdom in the decisions we make and increased longevity among our leaders.

Partnership is God’s idea! Partnership is good for leaders!

And partnership is essential for God’s people!

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